A day in their scrubs

May 14th, 2014

Fourth-year dental student Zach Alleman with sons Alex, 7 months, and Owen, 1 year, in the Atrium at Texas A&M University Baylor College of Dentistry

Meet D4 and dad Zach Alleman

It always happens when Zach Alleman, a fourth-year dental student, is in clinic. His phone starts buzzing like crazy. The first time was in April 2013. After almost two years of trying to adopt a child, he learned from his wife, Alison, they would need to be in Philadelphia the following morning. They raced to book their flight, pack their bags and buy a car seat. One week later, they returned home, little Owen, then 9 days old, snug in their arms.

Alleman finished his third-year clinical cases several weeks into the summer. Then it happened again. A birth mother he and his wife had originally applied to adopt from had contacted their agency. The family she selected had dropped out of the adoption process. Would the Allemans consider adopting her baby, too?

“It’s interesting to look back,” Alleman says. “If we had matched with Alex first, we wouldn’t have had Owen at all. There have been multiple things that made us realize that this is exactly what was supposed to happen.

“There’s been no sleep at night. It was like ‘boom’ — no kids and then two. But we’re just so thrilled with these little guys,” Alleman says of Owen, now 1, and Alex, 7 months. “They are just as cute as can be.”

Hometown: The Colony, Texas

Dental school survival strategy: I put my faith and family first. Whenever I talk to younger students, I tell them that dental school only lasts four years; if you’re married, that marriage relationship needs to last a lot longer. There is life outside of school. When you’re trying to balance things, you can’t do everything you’re used to. Some things you just have to let go. It’s all worked out. I didn’t have the 4.0 GPA I wanted, but I wouldn’t change anything.

You have to enjoy every day because it’s never going to calm down. You kind of feel like when you’re going through things like this that you’re the only one who is going through this stress. It never slows down, the stresses just change.

Most productive time of day: I’m a morning person even though I hate it. If I really need to get something done I get up earlier to do it. By 10:00 at night, I’m done. Even now, it’s worse, not getting eight hours of sleep at night. I learn when to call it a night and start over.

02students-day-in-their-scrubs-alleman-2Best way to unwind after a long day in lecture, lab or clinic: Spending time with my family — being on the floor wrestling with kids, hanging out with my wife, doing movie nights.

Favorite energy food: It’s changed through the years. First and second year were peanut butter crackers. Everybody knew when it was 10 a.m. I would have my peanut butter crackers. It went to trail mix in third year. Fourth year I just don’t have time to eat anything. Adrenaline carries you pretty far.

Goal after graduation: My pediatric dentistry residency that I’ll do here, and that’s two years. After that I want to do a year or two as an associate just to learn the ropes. With me being from here and Alison being from Utah, we’re not sure where that will be. After a few years I want to go into a practice with somebody or have a practice on my own.

What people may not know about you: I can speak German. When people think about me in class they see me as the guy who adopted two kids. They’ve been really supportive of it. I sent out a picture of Owen in an email when we finally got him. I just got so many kind responses. You can’t ask for better people.

— Jennifer Fuentes